Nobody is quite sure how many there are, but women entrepreneurs minding their own business are on the rise.
A June 1978 federal task force report disclosed that obstacles facing women business owners included insufficient operating capital, scarcity of marketing opportunities, inadequate management skills and limited technical skills.
President Carter, before an invited audience of 200 women business owners at the White House, recently signed an executive order establishing a national policy designed to open up entreprenurial opportunities for women.
Through a newly-established Interagency Commitee on Women's Business Enterprise, government agencies are directed to develop affirmative-action plans to provide women business owners bigger slices of federal assistance and procurement pies.
In opening up access to federal loan programs, for instance, the Small Business Administration has set a $50-million goal by 1980 for direct loans to women and will initiate a "mini-loan" pilot program for amounts under $20,000.
In addition, the government is expected to double, to at least $150 million by fiscal year 1980, the amount of federal contracts to women-owned businesses, and to redouble the amount by 1981.
Carter's order also called for an updated survey by the Census Bureau of businesses owned by women (a 1972 report showed 402,025, representing only 4.6 percent of all U.S. firms).
Women business-owners have found it difficult to achieve equal treatment, the president said.
"Part derives from intense competition where newcomers seldom are welcome to the entrepreneurial field. Quite often government mirrors almost exactly the attitude of private business," Carter said.